Former Macon County sheriff's employees meet with TBI - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Former Macon County sheriff's employees meet with TBI

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MACON COUNTY, TN (WSMV) -

The four former employees terminated on the day after Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons was re-elected met with the TBI on Monday asking them to investigate what they call politically-charged firings.

The four former employees, school resource officers Phil Harper and Joshua Smith and correctional officers Jimmy Hardin and Richard Keller, received notices in their mailboxes on Aug. 8 that their services were no longer needed.

"I was shocked a little bit. But knowing the situation, I knew it was going to happen," Smith said.

All four employees said that because their families supported Gammons' opponent, Butch Avery, it cost them their jobs.

Smith said in May when his father put up a sign for Avery in his own yard he received an angry phone call from the sheriff.

"He called me and threatened my job because my dad would not support him," Smith said.

Harper said he was fired after his family campaigned for Avery.

"I think it was because my family, and my wife's family, did not support Mark Gammons," Harper said.

Channel 4's repeated calls to Gammons and his chief deputy were not returned by deadline.

The firings come a month after a Channel 4 I-Team investigation revealed a speech in March made by Gammons to his staff that raised questions if he was telling his employees to support his campaign or lose their jobs.

At one point in the meeting, Gammons can be heard saying, "If you can't support me, that's fine. It's hard to support you and sign your check."

At the time, Gammons told the Channel 4 I-Team he was only warning employees not to campaign for his opponent during work hours and he would not fire anyone for not supporting his campaign.

"It (the speech) wasn't to threaten them and saying, ‘Go do this for me or I'm going to fire you.' That was not the intention," Gammons said in July.

The four employees now have their doubts.

"I have three small children that I have to take care of. I've lost my job for something I didn't do," Smith said.

Smith said he started recording that conversation where he claims the sheriff threatened his job.

A spokesman for the TBI said, at this point, they are not investigating until they are asked to do so by the district attorney.

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